By Dr. Erin Stefanacci DC CFMP
Are you eating well and drinking enough water? How is your intake of green leafy veggies? Are you limiting sugar and getting enough sleep? Check-in with yourself and your family and make sure you are setting your bodies up for success by fueling them with what they need. If you feel like you are doing most of these things and want to take it a step further in protecting yourself against coronavirus, there are some additional actions that you can take to protect yourself:e to be close to someone that is showing signs of viral infection (fever, cough, and shortness of breath), try to avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
If you have been watching or listening to the news or simply visiting with family or friends, you have likely learned about the coronavirus (COVID-19). Yes, it is true that the coronavirus is a contagious respiratory illness, but like many other respiratory illnesses, there are several things you can do to prepare, prevent and conquer this virus. Let’s dive in!
1. Don’t Panic, Just Prepare
First off, don’t panic, just prepare. If you or other members of your family get sick, it will be helpful if you are simply prepared. Do exactly what you do to prepare for any cold or flu season. Perhaps for your family that means making sure you have a full kitchen of healthy foods so if you fall sick, you don’t need to head to the store. Grab an extra box of tissues to have in the closet and consider adding some extra fruits and veggies to your diet.
To best prepare, make sure you have built and are supporting a healthy immune system. You are primarily protected from infections by white blood cells (WBC’s). Two WBC’s in particular that will help protect you from viral infections are natural killer (NK) cells and T cells. Individuals with suppressed immune systems are more likely to be affected by the coronavirus and all other viral infections.
Are you eating well and drinking enough water? How is your intake of green leafy veggies? Are you limiting sugar and getting enough sleep? Check in with yourself and your family and make sure you are setting your bodies up for success by fueling them with what they need. If you feel like you are doing most of these things and want to take it a step further in protecting yourself against coronavirus, there are some additional actions that you can take to protect yourself:
Eat mushrooms! Specifically, Shiitake mushrooms. Eat them raw, put them in soup, saute them, put them on a salad… it doesn’t matter. Just try to eat a lot of them! They are very high in nutrients and help to boost natural killer (NK) cells.
NK cells and T cells function better with glutathione, the most powerful antioxidant in your body. You can supplement with liposomal glutathione or n-acetyl cysteine (NAC), the precursor to glutathione.
Take vitamin C with bioflavonoids. Ascorbic acid won’t cut it. I typically recommend 1,000mg/day but some individuals will be able to tolerate more.
Aim for optimal vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and helps to regulate the immune system. To be honest almost everyone I see in my practice is vitamin D deficient. You can have your doctor check vitamin D levels using a blood test and the goal should be a level around 80ng/mL. Foods that contain vitamin D are fatty fish such as salmon and sardines, as well as cod liver oil. If supplementing, look for a vit D3/K2 supplement, preferably in emulsified liquid or capsule form. Adults will not obtain optimal vitamin D levels with 2000 IU’s daily. In fact, the Vitamin D Council recommends 5,000 IU’s/day for adults as a maintenance dose and you may need more if you are deficient. It is best to speak with your doctor about the perfect dose for you.
Zinc is a mineral that is essential for immune function. I look for optimal zinc levels in all patients. You want to have a zinc level around 100ug/dL. That being said, zinc is not a commonly tested blood biomarker but there is another way to check if you are zinc deficient using a more commonly tested blood marker, alkaline phosphatase (alk phos or ALP). If you’ve recently had a blood test, look at your alk phos level. You are considered deficient in zinc if alk phos levels are under 70IU/L. Foods containing zinc are turkey, cashews, lentils, beans, and chickpeas. If you prefer to supplement, 25mg 1-3 times daily is typically sufficient and should not be taken long-term unless advised by your physician.
Vitamin A is another fat-soluble vitamin that is important for optimal immune function. Testing for vitamin A is not common but can be done by a simple blood test that can easily be ordered for you by your doctor. You should aim for levels around 30ug/dL. Foods that contain vitamin A are egg yolk, bone broth, sweet potato, cantaloupe, spinach, and carrots. If you are considering supplementing with over 10,000 IU’s/day it best to speak with your doctor.
I always recommend using professional grade supplements. Some of my favorite brands and brands I use in my office are Xymogen, Apex Energetics, Biotics, and Metagenics.
2. Follow Flu Prevention Tips
Coronavirus is spread through mucus droplets which are sprayed during coughing or sneezing and can survive outside the body for various lengths of time. Coming in contact with virally infected fluids and then transferring that to the nose or mouth is what causes the virus to spread. That is why it is recommended to wash hands regularly and avoid touching your face. If you can, avoid close contact with those that are sick as you can breathe the virus in as well. If you have to be close to someone that is showing signs of viral infection (fever, cough and shortness of breath), try to avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
If you are sick, please stay home and let your body recover while also keeping the virus away from others. It is also helpful to remember to cough and sneeze into something, not just the air. It is best to cough or sneeze into a tissue and then throw it away or your elbow when a tissue isn’t available. Cloth tissues are great too, but be sure to wash them after each use. Be sure to wipe down surfaces exposed to coughs and sneezes regularly. Stay hydrated and rest.
3. Conquer Coronavirus
According to the Center for Disease Control, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for the Coronavirus. Again, don’t panic. Panic and fear leads to increased stress response and suppression of your immune system. Care for your body by staying hydrated, getting adequate sleep, eating foods that are nourishing, and properly supplementing.
**Reminder: This is an educational article that does not constitute medical advice. It is always recommended to speak with your healthcare provider before implementing any of the above recommendations, especially if you have pre-existing conditions or are taking medications.